The Swansboro Board of Commissioners will start their budget discussions this week.
It’ll be a mix of discussions about how the first six months of the 2017-2018 fiscal year have gone, what they expect for the last half of it, and what the next fiscal year holds, especially how this fiscal year might affect the next, said Swansboro Town Manager Scott chase.
One of the things they know will affect the next budget cycle is the possible addition of another investigator and another patrol officer for the police department.
With Swansboro’s continued growth comes a bigger caseload and a need for more officers on the roads, Scott said.
This isn’t a decision that came out of thin air. The increase in traffic and number of residents in the town has been “taxing” for both the police and fire departments, Chase said.
“We’ve been planning for this day for a while now,” Scott said. “The case load is certainly meriting bringing on an additional investigator.”
It’s an important decision, Chase said.
“There’s been a tremendous investment in public safety,” he said. “That’s one of the more important things we have to do here.”
When you don’t have enough people to cover the number of cases, you end up with cases that might not be investigated as fully as they could be, said Swansboro Police Chief Ken Jackson.
“You want to be able to have enough people to be able to cover the caseload,” Jackson said.
An increase in safety and protection, both of people and their properties, will be the biggest impact of the new additions, Jackson said. The consideration of the people they serve is at the heart of every decision the police department makes.
Jackson presented the need to the board last week and gave the following statistics to showcase why the need is there.
• About 24,000 vehicles travel through Swansboro on a daily basis.
• The number of felony crime investigations increased from 89 in 2016 to 117 in 2017.
• Reported property damages increased from 94 in 2016 to 113 in 2017
• Arrests increased from 71 in 2016 to 131 in 2017.
• In 2016, patrol recorded 19,893 events that were either self-initiated or from dispatch and that number more than doubled to 42,203 events in 2017.
• Nearly 121,369 patrol miles and 18,873 man hours were recorded in 2017 compared to 80,000 miles and 8,384 hours in 2016.
“It’s about being able to provide the citizens with enough officers to handle the workload and yet still patrol and deter crime,” Jackson said.
This will be the first discussion of the next fiscal year budget, Chase said, and will include input from the community on what they’d like to see. While the additional police manpower will be a huge impact on the budget, the board is looking to use the input to help shape the rest of it so they’re more informed about what the community hopes to see when they go into future discussions.
After the budget workshop the board will go into a closed session.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Swansboro Town Hall, located at 601 W. Corbett Ave.
Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com